Summaries of an editorial and opinion piece that address health care issues in the presidential election appear below.
* Washington Post: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) “touts her … leadership of the health care task force in the early years of the Clinton administration” as a “foundation” of her campaign, and, although “it’s natural that there would be a clamor” over the release of White House records about her work on the task force, “there’s a process that must be observed” and “should not be altered by the whims of politics,” according to a Post editorial. Last month, the National Archives asked a judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed in November 2007 by Judicial Watch that seeks to move a Freedom of Information Act request for the release of three million pages of documents related to the health care task force to the “front of the line,” the editorial states. The Archives addresses FOIA requests on a “first-come, first-served basis,” and, based on the multiple reviews required for the release of those records, the process “could take months, if not years,” according to the editorial. “We understand the frustration,” as records “generated by a president’s administration belong to the people,” the editorial states. However, the editorial states, the “Archives was right” to ask for the dismissal of the lawsuit, which would “set an untenable precedent of forcing the Archives to decide which FOIA request deserves attention over another and would open the decidedly nonpartisan agency to charges of playing politics with its work” (Washington Post, 2/8).
* Victoria Bunce/J.P. Wieske, Wall Street Journal: “To hear some of the presidential candidates, you’d think that health insurance companies are the driving force behind the growing cost of health insurance,” but the “more likely culprits” are state laws that mandate coverage for certain medical services, Bunce, research and policy director for the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, and Wieske, director of state affairs at the center, write in a Journal opinion piece. Coverage mandates “almost always raise the cost” of health insurance because they require health insurers to pay for medical services that “consumers previously funded out of their own pockets, if they purchased it at all,” the authors write. According to Bunce and Wieske, coverage mandates also “limit choices” for individuals who do not require health plans that cover a broad range of medical services. In addition, states that require health insurers to accept applicants regardless of their medical health status are “imposing costly burdens on health insurance,” which are “passed on to consumers — if they decide to keep their coverage,” the authors write. “Such micromanaging of benefits is unique to health insurance,” and, as a result of a lack of coverage mandates, markets for other types of insurance “function better and provide consumers with more choices,” the authors write. The authors add, “Before politicians jump on the anti-insurance bandwagon,” they should understand that efforts to make health insurance “more affordable would be a lot easier if they would stop legislating what it has to cover” (Bunce/Wieske, Wall Street Journal, 2/8).